There are certain movies that you know are going to be inspirational before you even put them into your Blu-ray player or go to see them at the movies. Movies that you are know are made with the intent to make you cry or be inspired for growth. Movies like Miracle, Coach Carter, Rocky, Field of Dreams & more. Movies that make you root for the underdog. Embrace the truth of even when life gets hard that there is always tomorrow. That there is a moment of light that is going to come out of the darkness. Sadly, as quickly as these movies inspire us, they fade from us just as quick. There are some exceptions to the rule.
Though, I’m not sure if 2006’s Gridiron Gang, is an exception to that rule or not. Gridiron Gang tells the story of Sean Porter, played by Dwayne Johnson, who is a prison guard. He convinces the state to allow him to put together a football team of juvenile intimates to break statistics and grow to become better people; to inspire them. What makes this one a bit more inspirational is the reality the film is based on, the 1990 season of the Kilpatrick Mustangs.
Sometimes a movie is only as good as your lead and that can somewhat be the case here. Johnson has proven himself over and over again as an actor. Even when the material may not be the best, Johnson is still going to be the best thing about the film. Here as Porter Johnson plays a blunt coach who can be hard but his belief is the driving force. Johnson has numerous inspirational monologues litter throughout the film. Though, that’s not the thing that makes his performance so fantastic. It’s the quiet character moments and heart behind Porter as a character. Johnson’s genuine heart bleeds through this performance with such strength and devotion. He is the single-handedly the anchor of the entire movie.
That’s when the real issues of this film start to pour out though. Johnson is so good within the confides of this movie, he actually outshines the rest of his team. Xzibit, of Pimp My Ride, stars opposite Johnson as fellow guard, Malcolm Moore. When he’s needed to Xzibit can raise to the occasion of being a dramatic actor. For the most, however, his signature smile and the other cast mates slowly blend together. The biggest downfall of this picture though would actually be the cast of characters that make up the football team, itself. The film favors racial stereotypes and clichés over actual character development. These moments do play into some of Johnson’s strengths. In comparison, though weaken the film as a whole. Then there are these moments with no dialogue, but overpowered with music. There are times where the score, by Trevor Rabin, does work. Though the inspirational nature of the music starts to become repetitive before the film even hits the halfway mark.
Overall, Gridiron Gang, is an inspiring story with an even more inspiring performance from the film’s lead, Dwayne Johnson. Johnson dares to, and succeeds, outshine every other cast member. Gridiron is riddled with racial stereotypes and clichés rather than actual character development. A solid musical score, while excellent at times, feels overdrawn and too repetitive by the time the film starts the portion of the credits. Gridiron Gang does indeed inspire and will move you. Just won’t win the game in the end.
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